Ottawa says it is ready to increase health transfers, under certain conditions

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Ottawa says it is ready to increase health transfers, under certain conditions

The Minister of Health, Jean-Yves Duclos, believes that the quality of national data must be improved to improve the quality of care.

The Trudeau government is ready to increase transfers in health if the provinces and territories collaborate on a national health data sharing system, affirms the federal Minister of Health, Jean-Yves Duclos, who met on Monday with the provincial ministers in the matter in Vancouver.

“We will if provinces and territories are willing to commit to significantly expand the sharing and use of common key health indicators and create a world-class health data system for our country.” . »

— Jean-Yves Duclos Federal Minister of Health

This additional cooperation, he added, will help us better plan investments and ensure that Canadians can access their own health records.

Minister Duclos also stated that the federal government was ready to invest in a second stream of funding for tailored agreements with the provinces and territories.

This would, among other things, Mr. Duclos, support for health care workers, access to family medicine teams and access to mental health care.

Asked by journalists about the amount of the federal government's contribution in the event of an agreement with the provincial governments and the territories, Jean-Yves Duclos refrained from putting forward a precise figure and refuses to engage in a debate on percentage.

He said he wants to focus on concrete results, such as reducing waiting lists for surgery.

Minister Duclos mentioned an improvement in transfers which will already be increased from 45 to 49 billion in a few months.

British Columbia Health Minister Adrian Dix, who was hosting his provincial counterparts in Vancouver on Monday, reacted positively to the federal minister's announcement.

Mr. Dix said he was encouraged, seeing with a good eye a resumption of discussions with the federal government after a year of silence.

This is good news of course, but it will have to be discussed of course, he insisted.

BC Minister of Health Adrian Dix.

For Minister Dix, this is a historic opportunity for our healthcare system.

“We have been demanding this for a year and we will continue to present the need for the federal government to take responsibility for funding health systems.

— Adrian Dix, Minister of Health of British Columbia

The Minister, however, stressed that each province has its own policies […] which respond to real needs Population.

Now we have to move on to serious discussions, he said.

For his part, the Minister of Health of Quebec, Christian Dubé, also reacted positively to the announcement of Minister Duclos.

Minister of Health Christian Dubé with his counterparts from other provinces

This is good news […] since there will be more money that was not on the table a few days ago, he said.

“Mr. Duclos talked about conditions. For us, this is not acceptable. »

—Christian Dubé, Minister of Health of Quebec

Mr. Dubé stressed that, when it comes to performance, Quebec is accountable to the citizens of Quebec and the National Assembly. It is not beholden to the federal government. Because it is a provincial jurisdiction, he said.

Regarding the issue of data sharing raised by Minister Duclos, Mr. Dubé commented laconically. If the federal government wants statistics, we have a dashboard that is available to them, he said.

Minister Dubé received the support of Bloc Québécois spokesperson for intergovernmental affairs, Mario Simard, who urged the federal government to increase its share to 35%, or $28 billion per year. , without conditions.

Now that the Liberals seem to be showing openness, it remains to be seen whether they will be serious about increasing funding, Mr. Simard.

It will not be a blank check, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said earlier, demanding an improved health care system.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during a visit to Montreal on November 7, 2022.

Mr. Trudeau quoted the president of the Canadian Medical Association, Dr. Alika Lafontaine, who said recently that there was no point in investing more money in a broken system.

But everyone knows very well that it's not just money it takes. It's transformations in our health system, it's improvements, results that we deliver for citizens, and that's why the Ministers of Health are meeting, said the prime minister.

The Vancouver meeting comes four months after the Council of the Federation, which was held in Victoria in July. The premiers of the provinces and territories formed a united front there for an improvement in the health transfer.

They reiterated the demand they made at the February Council of the Federation virtual meeting that Ottawa increase its contribution from 22 % to 35% of health spending, or about $28 billion more per year.

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